×

Apply

Apply

Chris Williford

Chris Williford speaks on the anxieties & consequences of glamour, a practice centered around the transformation of unwanted materials into images & finding inspiration as a material-based artist

Chris Williford, Houndstooth Kitty at Sunset (2019), Fleece, felt, tulle, and acrylic on canvas

Chris Williford, Houndstooth Kitty at Sunset (2019), Fleece, felt, tulle, and acrylic on canvas

What’s your background & how did you get into making art?
I’m a native Texan, born and raised in Dallas. I grew up watching a lot of cartoons, mainly SpongeBob and The Powerpuff Girls, which had a big influence on me. I first wanted to pursue a career in animation, but then got really into drawing in high school. I was publicly outed as queer at a young age, and drawing became an outlet to express a lot of the sadness and frustration that comes with those pressures. Around then I became obsessed with the more tactile aspects of making art. I was accepted to MICA where I studied Printmaking, and ultimately graduate school at SAIC where I focused on large-format silkscreen printing and installation.

Chris Williford, Tropical Sheet Mask (2019) Fleece, vinyl, enamel, tulle, and printed cotton on canvas

Chris Williford, Tropical Sheet Mask (2019) Fleece, vinyl, enamel, tulle, and printed cotton on canvas

Chris Williford, Trophy (2019), Denim, fleece, jersey, faux fur, and astroturf on canvas with patches

Chris Williford, Trophy (2019), Denim, fleece, jersey, faux fur, and astroturf on canvas with patches

What are you currently working? Describe your most recent body of work.
Right now I am creating work that deals with the anxieties and consequences of glamour. I always think about how our obsession with images and screens has started to physically transform us (sometimes into monsters). I think the tension of glamour is so exciting because it can be liberating on a personal level, but also sinister if indulged too much. I make my work almost entirely out of recycled materials, kicking them around my studio until they’re used. I center my practice around the transformation of unwanted materials into images that speak about desire, as a kind of allegory that anyone or anything can be glamour—even if they’ve been deemed trash.

Chris Williford, Summer School (Sex Laugh) (2019), Collage with vintage magazine covers, colored paperclips

Chris Williford, Summer School (Sex Laugh) (2019), Collage with vintage magazine covers, colored paperclips

Chris Williford, Shark Rise with Orange Sun (2019), Fleece, bleached denim, felt, and printed cotton on canvas

Chris Williford, Shark Rise with Orange Sun (2019), Fleece, bleached denim, felt, and printed cotton on canvas

Where do you go to discover new work or find inspiration?
I always find inspiration by shopping, especially browsing antique stores. As a material-based artist, surrounding myself with a bunch of objects is important to me. Though I don’t always buy things, I take snapshots of the displays and enjoy seeing how they’re staged. I love looking at illustrated graphics and toys from the 60s and 70s, and try to evoke a similar style or feeling when I work. I think that a lot of designed objects today look really cold and impersonal, so stylistically I am becoming more interested in visual qualities that reference the past—vintage horror and tripping cartoon characters are familiar faces in my world.

I am creating
work that deals
with the anxieties
& consequences
of glamour

Chris Williford

Is your process project based or do you take a broad approach to your practice?
I feel like my ideas are more easily understood in the breadth of my work rather than in a singular iteration. Since my process is based on chance and improvisation, I prefer to make work without the intention of it being packaged into a larger project, which gives me the freedom to make whatever decisions I want in the studio and the time and space to respond to my materials. I let a body of work form itself over time, which I find to be less forced. It’s also just more fun for me that way.

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

What is a typical studio day like for you?
I have to listen to music while I work. Some of my favorite artists are The Growlers, Wavves, and Kim Petras. I like a lot of lo-fi, garage, and surf music with heavy distortion that sounds very far away and romantic. Whatever I’m listening to will ultimately become the soundtrack to the thing I’m making. Working to music directly influences my pacing and my decision-making process, playing an active role in the outcome of a piece. Because I work full-time in fashion during the week, my studio days are often studio nights, but I find that I work better at night when there are less distractions around.

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford Studio, 2019

Chris Williford, Miss Teen USA (2019), Resin, styrofoam head, found wigs, plastic banners

Chris Williford, Miss Teen USA (2019), Resin, styrofoam head, found wigs, plastic banners

Do you have upcoming shows or events you would like to share?
I am super stoked that I will soon be participating in my first fashion show! It’s a benefit for a local organization that sells reused art supplies and also donates them to teachers, where I get a lot of my materials. For the show, I will be constructing a head-to-toe look for the first time in a runway presentation. Since I am not a garment maker per se, I plan to apply some of the logic I use to create my collaged works to my finished look. Even if it looks like a mess, I’m interested in pushing myself away from object making in order to focus on something that will be activated by a body in motion and set to music.

Chris Williford, Killer Shades (2019), Fleece, denim, cotton, and tulle on canvas with patch

Chris Williford, Killer Shades (2019), Fleece, denim, cotton, and tulle on canvas with patch

Chris Williford, Grunge Love Lasts Forever (2019), Fleece, denim, silkscreened faux fur, and patch on canvas

Chris Williford, Grunge Love Lasts Forever (2019), Fleece, denim, silkscreened faux fur, and patch on canvas

Chris Williford is an artist based in Chicago, IL. He was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

Stay Connected

Follow Us on Instagram
@hopperprize

Join Our Network